Pero los que esperan a Jehová tendrán nuevas fuerzas; levantarán alas como las águilas; correrán, y no se cansarán; caminarán, y no se fatigarán.
Isaías 40:31 RVC
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
It’s been a long summer. A few months ago, we returned to the US after spending nearly a year in El Cacalote, Oaxaca, Mexico for language school. Our plan was foolproof: we would apply for our Dominican Republic visas while spending the summer visiting churches, raising support, and catching up with friends and family. We made a checklist. We gathered our documents and filled out the applications. We prayed a lot and leaned heavily on help from other global servants who shared their experiences and advice. We did everything we thought we were supposed to do in order to move forward, yet here we are, still in Ohio—waiting.
The Dominican embassy in Washington DC received our applications and paperwork on September 13 and they contacted us on October 12 requesting additional information regarding our partner in the Dominican Republic. With help, we were able to acquire the documents the embassy needed that same day and emailed them to the embassy. We excitedly expected to receive our visas shortly thereafter, but there’ve been no further updates. We’re still waiting.
Waiting is hard. I’ve never liked waiting. Realistically, I don’t think anyone does. After all, look at how impatient we can get when stuck in a slow, long line at the grocery store or sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room with nothing but droning pop music to entertain us or staring up at a green light and wondering why the car ahead of us isn’t moving. If impatience isn’t a part of human nature, it’s surely a part of our culture in the US. That’s a discussion for another time. For many of us waiting goes against common sense. Many of us thrive on action and a go-getters will. Inaction doesn’t feel like standing still, it feels like a step backwards—that’s kind of where I’m at, stuck in an endless time loop like the movie Groundhog Day. We get up, eat breakfast, we homeschool, eat lunch, I check email and the prepaid tracking on the return envelope from the embassy, we try to keep the kids entertained, eat dinner, entertain the kids some more, and then bedtime…knowing full well that when I wake the next morning, we’ll do the exact same thing again…and the next day…and the one after that.
This makes it harder. I think back to when I was a kid. Around November, I’d start watching the calendar, anxiously counting down the weeks and then days till Christmas morning would arrive. I picture the calendar, black lines hastily drawn to cross off each passing day with the knowledge that what we hoped for would surely arrive: the 25th of December, marked with a big red circle to prove its importance. That day would come, set in stone…the calendar said so after all. It was only a matter of holding out long enough to make it. We’ve all been there, right? Maybe it was a different situation but with the same expectation. We could see the date coming and be encouraged that what we hoped and waited for would arrive on that day. But right now, my family, we don’t have a date. We don’t have any idea when we’ll get an email confirming that our visas have been processed or an email requesting further information. We live daily in this limbo, trying to keep God’s will above ours and trust Him in our idleness.
Isaiah 40:31 has been one of my favorite scripture passages since I was young. I loved the imagery of a soaring eagle gracefully riding the wind—a symbol of freedom with no earthly bounds to hold the eagle down. It’s easy to imagine, what’s harder is seeing myself as that magnificent creature, unfettered by the concerns and practicalities of life, able to rise above reality and my own expectations. But waiting doesn’t feel much like soaring to me. I feel like a bird with clipped wings watching all the other birds fly. What I take away from this scripture now is not how I understood it when I was younger. It’s not about the liberty of flying free under my own power. It’s about the renewal, peace, and power that comes only from waiting for the Lord. This world is exhausting. We’re shouted at from thousands of voices in thousands of directions—all vying for our attention. While we’ve not yet left to do the work God has called us to do in the Dominican Republic, we are busy here. We feel idle in the waiting, but we are anything but still. Nearly every Sunday during our time in between Mexico and the Dominican Republic we’ve visited churches. Weve shared with church communities all over Ohio and in West Virginia. Our kids were even baptized in our home church this summer! All this to say we know that God has used every moment of our time back in the states for His glory. That puts so much in perspective. I’d love to be writing this from the Dominican Republic, soaking up the sun and heat in Santiago, rather than looking out the window and wondering if we’ll see snow by week’s end. But, I’m here and I trust that this is where God wants me—wants my family. The words of Isaiah 40 were originally written as an encouragement to the people of Israel as they faced hardships both from within and without, and even questioned if God had forgotten them. The Israelites were reminded that their trust was to remain in the Lord, waiting on the Lord’s timing and hoping in Him to deliver them.
As I’ve been thinking on this scripture and reflecting on our time in the US, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not about the waiting, but how we wait. The Spanish verb used in this verse is esperar which means to wait or to hope. I love that this one verb can mean both. In English, we don’t necessarily see waiting and hoping as the same thing; in fact, it can be the opposite. Sometimes we allow waiting to destroy our hope. This is why how we wait is more important than the wait itself. We all have to wait at different points in our lives, but it’s how we act in the waiting, knowing that while we’re standing still God is still moving. It would be easy to shake a fist at God and ask why we’ve been waiting so long—honestly, some mornings I feel like that. But I’m reminded that we have been active in ministry here. We’ve advocated on behalf of Haitians in churches and in conversations. We’ve made people aware of the struggle migrants face simply looking for a safe place to rest, all while in many ways being migrants ourselves—no home of our own, relying on the kindness of good people as we’re living in the in-between. As we’ve ministered, we’ve been ministered to and I will be forever grateful to God and those who He placed on our path, those who themselves answered the call to serve as they saw my family in need.
Let this be an encouragement to you, right where you are as you read this. Regardless of what we all might be facing—the hardships and struggles, the joys and triumphs—know that God is right there alongside us, calling us forward so that when we run, we run to Him. And like the mighty eagle, we too can soar with God as the wind beneath our wings.